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In the eye of the beholder
by Justin Royer
A couple of days ago the NY Times published an article entitled “Why We Love Beautiful Things“. Its primary purpose was to illuminate why good design moves people to action. As a marketer and someone who spends most days thinking a lot about design, I love this topic. The author whets your appetite early by asserting:
“Yet, while we are drawn to good design…we’re not quite sure why.”
And then the corner turns and the answer turns out to be…you guessed it…based on evolutionary biology. Beauty can be boiled down to merely something that inspires behavior beneficial toward survival. Take the reason we like the color green, for example:
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“Take color. Last year, German researchers found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. It’s not hard to guess why: we associate verdant colors with food-bearing vegetation — hues that promise nourishment.”
Now, to make it clear, I don’t patently disregard the theory of evolution. I’m happy to give it credit as far as evidence will take it. But similar to our pal, C.S. Lewis, I’m skeptical about the “myth” of “evolution-ism“. In this case, quickly crediting evolution with explanatory powers that could easily be out of its grasp. Consider other types of beauty we find nearly universally accepted, and which naturalistic evolutionary-based explanatory accounts are wanting…
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